| LIMA, June 5
LIMA, June 5 Three legislators have quit
President Ollanta Humala's Gana Peru party and more departures
are possible as his crackdown on anti-mining protests and drift
to the right erode his working majority in Congress.
The departing lawmakers on Tuesday accused Humala of
spurning traditional allies on the left, courting big business
and - most importantly - using force instead of mediation to
quell vexing social conflicts over the spoils of mineral wealth.
Widespread conflicts over mineral resources threaten to
delay some of the $50 billion in investments Peru has lined up
for a sector that drives 60 percent of exports in one of Latin
America's fastest-growing economies.
The president's far-left father, Isaac Humala, known for
ornery comments and conspiracy theories, has called his son a
sellout and warned that his presidency will be a failure.
The defections left Humala's party with 43 of 130 seats in
Congress. Though Humala has relied on 20 seats from the Peru
Posible party for a working majority, he will now have to look
to the right-wing party of former President Alberto Fujimori for
help in passing bills.
Humala won the presidency a year ago by shedding his
hard-line image and recasting himself as a moderate leftist who
could please foreign investors and spread the country's growing
wealth to help the poor. Critics say he has abandoned the left.
"Promises made during the electoral campaign have been
systematically ignored by the government," Javier Diez Canseco,
one of the three dissident lawmakers, said in Congress.
Political analyst Fernando Tuesta said more defections were
"There will be more departures in the future if the
government loses the political capital to manage severe social
conflicts," he said in a column in the newspaper La Republica.
Despite the party's turmoil, Humala is still the most
popular Peruvian president in decades, with an approval rating
of more than 50 percent in a country where his predecessors
plumbed lows of less than 10 percent in polls.
The economy is growing 6 percent a year, inflation is low,
and the government says it is investing in poor rural areas that
were overlooked in a decade-long boom. Public investments are on
track to rise by 30 percent this year and social welfare
spending by 60 percent.
Relying on votes from Fujimori's party would draw criticism
from the left, but since taking office Humala has repeatedly
said he has abandoned any political ideologies to try to lead as
Critics say the former military officer is too quick to rely
on authoritarian tactics and has criminalized protests. His
government has arrested local political heads for leading
rallies against mines owned or planned by global miners Xstrata
Prime Minister Oscar Valdes, also a former military officer,
has blamed far-left ideologues for fomenting the protests, and
some of those leftist leaders are widely expected to make their
own presidential bids in 2016.
Humala took office in July 2011, urging mediation to calm
hundreds of disputes nationwide over the spoils of natural
resources. Those efforts have averted some clashes with police
who were sent in to clear roadblocks set by protesters.
But at least 10 people have died in disputes over natural
resources under his watch. Similar clashes killed at least 174
during the tenure of Humala's predecessor, Alan Garcia.